The experiences of teacher aides who support students with disabilities and learning difficulties : a phenomenological study

Bourke, Patricia E. (2008) The experiences of teacher aides who support students with disabilities and learning difficulties : a phenomenological study. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Schools in Queensland, Australia, are undergoing inclusive education reform, following the report of the Ministerial Taskforce on Inclusive Education (Students with Disabilities) in 2004. The State government’s responses to the taskforce report emphasise a commitment to social justice and equity so that all students can be included in ways that enable them to achieve their potential. Teacher aides are employed in schools as ancillary staff to support students with disabilities and learning difficulties. Their support roles in schools are emerging within an educational context in which assumptions about disability, difference and inclusion of students with disabilities and learning difficulties are changing. It is important to acknowledge teacher aides as support practitioners, and to understand their roles in relation to the inclusion of students with disabilities and learning difficulties as inclusive education reform continues. This study used a phenomenological approach to explore the lived experiences of teacher aides as they supported students with disabilities and learning difficulties in primary schools. Four key insights into the support roles of teacher aides in primary schools in Brisbane, Queensland emerged from the study: 1) teacher aides develop empathetic relationships with students that contribute significantly to the students’ sense of belonging within school communities; 2) lack of clear definition of roles and responsibilities for teacher aides has detrimental effects on inclusion of students; 3) collaborative planning and implementation of classroom learning and socialisation programs enhances inclusion; and 4) teacher aides learn about supporting students while on-the-job, and in consultation and collaboration with other members of the students’ support networks.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

35,289 since deposited on 23 Jun 2009
4,300 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 25910
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Carrington, Suzanne & Ehrich, Lisa
Keywords: inclusive education, teacher aides, support for students, professional development, collaborative teaming
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 23 Jun 2009 05:38
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:53

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page